A storm sweeps its way into Penn State

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A storm sweeps its way into Penn State

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A mob of white-clad fans stormed the court at Bryce Jordan Center and Tony Carr disappeared among them.

Carr was the most noticeable player on the court until then, scoring 30 points to lead Penn State to a 79-56 rout of No. 8 Ohio State on Thursday night.

"They threw a bunch of (defenders) at him," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Tony was super-efficient tonight. I think his teammates knew he had it going a little bit."

C.J. Jackson led Ohio State (22-6, 13-2 Big Ten) with 13 points and Keita Bates-Diop added 10 for the Buckeyes, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Now, the Nittany Lions (19-9, 9-6) are cruising, winners of six of their last seven since Carr lifted them over Ohio State with a buzzer-beater on Jan. 25. Thursday's win marked Penn State's first four-game conference winning streak since 2008-09 and the Nittany Lions have a chance to beat ranked teams in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011, when they travel to No. 6 Purdue.

They'll bring a defense that frustrated the Buckeyes (22-6, 13-2) in their lowest scoring performance of the 2017-18 season.

Mike Watkins added 11 points and 10 rebounds for his tenth double-double of the season. Shep Garner and Josh Reaves added 13 and 10 points apiece for the Nittany Lions, who led 45-21 at halftime and by as many as 30 early in the second.

The Nittany Lions took control in the first half with a 12-0 run.

Carr tossed an alley-oop Watkins' way and the forward jammed home the run's second basket to give Penn State the lead for good just 3:20 in.

Penn State added a pair of 7-0 runs and a 6-0 spurt later in the half and Carr beat two defenders and buried an awkward layup off a full-court inbounds pass and an ensuing free throw to close the first half.

"We really have a hard time guarding him," Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. "We've tried almost everybody on our perimeter on him. We have ran through the gamut."

Garner nailed one of his four 3-pointers to put Penn State up by 30 early in the second. But the Buckeyes used an 18-4 run to cut Penn State's lead to 16 with 10:32 to play. Bates-Diop hit a 3-pointer to pull the Buckeyes to 58-42, but they wouldn't get any closer.

"If we continue with this effort, it's going to be a long couple of weeks," Holtmann said.

The big picture
Ohio State: The Buckeyes entered a half game up on No. 2 Michigan State in the Big Ten standings and a 1 ahead of No. 6 Purdue with the head-to-head tiebreaker over both. The Boilermakers fell to Wisconsin on Thursday, so they didn't gain any ground. But the Buckeyes' lead isn't safe with three games left, especially if they shoot as poorly as they did inside the Bryce Jordan Center where they made just 28 percent of their field goals over the first 20 minutes.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions controlled this game from the opening tip thanks to stingy defense that turned into opportunistic offense. They improved to 2-2 against ranked teams this season.

Try them all
Holtmann tried Jae'Sean Tate, Andre Wesson and even forward Bates-Diop to slow Carr. None were very effective as Carr made 9 of 15 shots from the floor and 8 of 12 free throws.

Afterward, Carr grinned when asked if he draws any personal satisfaction from the fact opponents are running through their playbooks and personnel on account of him.

"It's kind of something I'm used to, teams throw one or two defenders at me during the game," Carr said. "It's definitely a confidence booster when they can't really stop you."

One-sided stats
Penn State won the rebounding battle 38-30 and racked up defensive stats all night. The Nittany Lions finished with eight steals, seven blocks and scored 15 points off 10 Ohio State turnovers.

Jackson cramping
Jackson wasn't available all evening and had to go to the locker room with cramps in the second. It's been an issue for most of the season for the junior guard.

"I think obviously our guard depth is a bit of a concern, particularly at that position," Holtmann said. "I think we all understand how important he is to us. I don't think he would've been able to go back in the game if we wanted to put him in."

Up next
Ohio State travels to No. 22 Michigan on Sunday.

Penn State visits No. 6 Purdue on Sunday.

Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

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Garner and Carr lead Penn State to 3rd straight win

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Shep Garner scored 16 points and Tony Carr had 15 points to lead Penn State to a 74-52 victory over Illinois on Sunday night.

Illinois missed its first nine second-half shots and didn't score for seven-plus minutes as Penn State went on a 12-0 run to make it 49-36. The Nittany Lions (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) led by at least nine points the rest of the way.

Carr hit three 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds and had six assists. Lamar Stevens finished with 11 points, while Mike Watkins and Josh Reaves scored 10 apiece, for Penn State.

Illinois had the lead for more than 15 minutes in the first half, but squandered it late. Carr air balled a 3-pointer from the right wing, but Jamari Wheeler grabbed the offensive rebound and kicked it out to Garner, who nailed a corner 3.

On the ensuing play, Mark Alstork stepped on the baseline while inbounding the ball, giving Penn State possession with 3.6 seconds left. Carr scored a layup before the buzzer to take a one-point lead into the break.

The Nittany Lions shot 54.5 percent from the field, outscored Illinois 34-12 in the paint and won their fourth consecutive game against the Illini. Penn State has won six of its last seven overall.

Leron Black led Illinois (12-14, 2-11) with 18 points.

Big Picture
After finishing three games below .500 last season, the Nittany Lions continued their impressive turnaround this year. With a strong finish in conference play, Penn State could make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.

After scoring career-high 32-points in a 78-69 loss to Wisconsin on Thursday, Trent Frazier was held to just six against Penn State. He has been Illinois' best player in conference play, and without a strong performance from him the Illini struggled.

Up Next
The Illini will face Indiana on the Wednesday night. Illinois knocked off the Hoosiers on Jan. 24 for its first Big Ten victory of the season.

Penn State returns home to face No. 14 Ohio State. The Buckeyes sit atop the Big Ten after a one-point win over No. 3 Purdue last week.

Lamar Stevens fires darts in Penn State victory

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Lamar Stevens fires darts in Penn State victory

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

Big picture
Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.

Well-guarded
While Stevens led the offense, guards Reaves, Shep Garner and Jamari Wheeler helped keep Cowan Jr. and Huerter from doing major damage.

The Terrapin duo entered the Bryce Jordan Center averaging a combined 30 points per game. And while they got close with 28, they combined for six of their team's 14 turnovers as Penn State dialed up the pressure.

"They really pressured us," Turgeon said. "I thought (Reaves and Wheeler) had a lot to do with it."

Speedy D
Stevens called Reaves the "heart and soul" of the team and there's no question Penn State looks like a different squad with the stingy, opportunistic defender in the lineup.

Penn State is 4-1 since his return from an academic-related suspension.

"He's going to defend and rebound," Chambers said. "He'll guard the best player on the other team, and when he has opportunities to score and make plays, which he usually does, he's that guy that does it for us."

Reaves led the team with nine rebounds with six in the defensive end.

While Penn State has leaned on Reaves since his return, his presence hasn't prevented Chambers from keeping the speedy Wheeler in the rotation. Wheeler played 11 minutes and chipped in three assists.

Up next
Maryland hosts Northwestern on Saturday.

Penn State visits Illinois on Sunday.